Skip to main content

Full text of "The Gay Genius"

See other formats

J46                            THE GAY GENIUS

Curiously, this fable was used as testimony at his court trial. The charge
was that he was ridiculing the scholars of the time for following blindly
the commentaries of Wang Anshih on the classics.

Su Tungpo was too complex a character? too many-sided, to be under-
stood easily. While he was too good a philosopher to be a puritan, he
was also too good a Confucianist to be just a drunk. He understood
life too well and valued it too highly just to squander it with wine and
women. He was a poet of nature, with that peculiar wholesome mystic
view of life which is always associated with a deep and true under-
standing of nature. No one, I believe, can live in close touch with
nature and its seasons, its snows and rains, its hills and dales, receiving
its healing powers, and have a warped mind or a warped view of life.

On the ninth day of the ninth moon, 1073, he refused to go to the
drinking parties usually held on such a festival. Running away from
his friends, he took a boat all by himself. Getting up before dawn, a|
was the custom on this festival, he went out to the lake and called 00
the two priests at Kushan. That night he sat alone in a boat on the
lake, watching the lights from the windows of Yumeitang on the top
of the hill, where his colleagues were enjoying themselves at one of
those usually boisterous wine dinners. Writing to a colleague, Chou
Pin, he said:

"The high note of your poems suggests the mountain clouds.
You would not fall drunk on a woman's breast!
If you won't pierce the country green with your sandals,
Why not watch the boat cut ripples on the blue?
I remember the gambling and shouting of Yuan Yentao;
But where is the angry, cursing General Kuan? *
The sunset and the breeze are nature's free gifts,
Come to the lake, and share the cool evening air!"

* Allusions, not to contemporaries, but to historic characters.